Installing a garden fence

Gardening No Comments »

With the start of growing season fast approaching and the back yard area still lacking a fence (it’s a big project), we decided fencing in the orchard and the vegetable garden separately was the only option to get growing this year. This was our first attempt at putting up fencing and I must say I was pretty pleased with myself for sinking the t-posts by myself. We scavenged fence remnants from around the property and were able to repurpose everything. The orchard area was completed first and then we moved onto the vegetable garden.
The plot for the garden is on a slight slope which isnt a big deal, but makes the fence line less than perfect. I first sunk the corner t-posts then spaced the remaining t-posts about 6feet apart on all sides. I’m short so I utilized a lawn chair to get me to the proper height for driving the t-post into the ground with the t-post driver. For a more permanent and sturdy animal fence you would definitely want to go with a heave duty corner post for some strength. As long as a deer doesn’t get tangled in our fence and a bear doesn’t try to climb it, I’m expecting our t-posts to hold up our animal fence just fine.

Pound, pound, pound  and fast forward and the t-posts are in. I recruited help for the next portion because although I’m a scrappy gal, I just couldn’t wrestle the fence alone.

hanging-deer-fencing Read the rest of this entry »

How to Protect Trees from Sunburn

Gardening No Comments »

With the fruit trees happy in their new home, we are in maintenance mode. The new pear and apple trees have not ever been painted and the few year old cherry and nectarine trees have little of their original coat of sun block remaining.

dwarf-cherry-treespainted-tree-trunks Read the rest of this entry »

Trellising Raspberries

Gardening No Comments »

It has been about 8 weeks since we planted the raspberries. We’ve seen a lot of growth over the last month with the start of spring. All 10 of the canes seem to be doing well, some better than others.

training-new-berry-bushes
With the 6 inches or so of new growth, I decided it is time to begin training these guys.
They aren’t quite tall enough to reach the lattice but there is a bit of forward growth that I want to redirect. Read the rest of this entry »

What’s happening in the garden May 4

Gardening No Comments »

I was out working on a few things this afternoon with my camera in hand and snapped some pictures of our progress thus far this year with our fruit. It is a few days into May and we’ve had a mix of weather since the official start of spring: temperatures as low as mid 30s at night and we’ve reached high 80s a couple afternoons. We also saw a decent amount of rain (hallelujah!) and some snow since spring has sprung.
We’ve got happy trees…they’re finally in the ground after much delay. The time spent in temporary pot homes ranged from 1-4 years (much too long). As you can imagine they didn’t do much growing in their temporary homes and never produced after the first year in a pot. They’ve impressed me with how quickly they’re flourishing in the ground. They still have catching up to do given their ages, but we’re on the right track.

baby-nectarines

Read the rest of this entry »

Planting Raspberries on a Trellis

Gardening No Comments »

In early March we had an unusual stretch of warm, beautiful weather. We decided to take advantage of it and got our raspberry babies in the ground.
The plot is a space we were on the fence about for some time. It is prime real estate right off of the deck in the “back yard” and we wanted to use it well. We agreed a permanent crop would live there but debated trying asparagus or artichokes. Raspberries ultimately won the coveted spot because we wanted to utilize the existing lattice, which encloses the under-deck space, as a trellis.

fruit-bed
I haven’t seen much in the way of examples of neat and tidy raspberry trellising. Usually the trellis is more of a cage with the canes trained/trimmed to stay within the confines of the designated grow area.
Our approach is different because we want to train the raspberries to live in an espalier-like shape. I’m not convinced it will work but if it does, it’ll be wonderful! Read the rest of this entry »

Storing Bulk Cheese

Food storage, In the Kitchen No Comments »

Always looking for ways to save a few bucks, I grabbed one of these 2lb organic monterey jack cheese blocks from Costco. Because we typically spend quite a bit on pricey organic cheese slices, this is a definite money saver….its fast and easy too.

bulk-organic-cheese
Read the rest of this entry »

Homemade Peas and Potatoes Baby Food

In the Kitchen No Comments »

Our plan for introducing solids to our little one was simply to mash up some of whatever everyone else was eating and offer it. We eat healthy, unprocessed foods and thought this approach would be ideal. We did encounter a few downsides with this method: sometimes we’re in a time crunch and whatever we quickly whip up isn’t appropriate for him or we’re away from home and don’t have something appropriate to offer. Little one has also been keeping us on our toes with randomly changing his preferences so what was planned for a meal sometimes doesn’t get eaten and we need a backup to offer. All of this led me to wanting a larger stash of homemade baby food prepared for these “in a pinch” situations.

baby-food-recipe

One of the things I’ve been doing which has been helpful is baking one or 2 yams, mashing, cooling and storing in the freezer or fridge for easy meals. This has been incredibly easy but he recently stopped eating one of his staple veggie meals and I’m wanting more variety for him (especially of the non-sweet veggie type). Read the rest of this entry »

Food Grade Drum Garden Bed

Gardening No Comments »

This is a fun DIY project and probably my favorite recycling project yet. I had no hand in this project as my hands were busy with our newborn baby. Husband and Dad tackled this project one afternoon and I couldn’t be more pleased. I love the convenience of having waist-high garden beds and they were nearly free since we had the materials lying around.

homemade-raised-bed Read the rest of this entry »

Spindly Carrots

Gardening No Comments »

So, we attempted to grow some carrots this year. I’m not sure what went wrong but it was a huge disappointment. These Royal Chantenay carrots amounted to this after more than 3 months:

spindly-carrots

This variety states 60-70 days to harvest on the seed packet. After doing a few minutes of research I came up with a small list of possible causes. I think the most likely scenario is that these guys were overcrowded. A large portion of the seeded area was flooded before the seeds sprouted and only a small number of the carrots began growing. We ended up homing 2 zucchini plants nearby so the space wasn’t wasted. The zucchinis stretched out as they always do and this could’ve been the contributing factor in our sad carrot harvest. Oh well, there is always next year.

Fire Season

Weather Report No Comments »

I suppose nearly every place on earth has a drawback of some sort when it comes to weather. Ours is the ever present threat of wild fire and it is a serious threat every single year. Living in the Sierra Nevada mountains, where we rarely get any rain in the summer months and temperatures easily top 90 degrees most of the summer, it is only a matter of time before we hear the fire news rolling in. We take precautions on our property such as clearing brush and limbs that have gotten too close to structures but that provides little comfort when surrounded by a forest that could fuel a raging fire for days. Read the rest of this entry »

Local Farmers’ Market

In the Kitchen No Comments »

With my Saturday mornings no longer being occupied by my job, we’ve been able to enjoy some real treats from the local farmers’ market. The farmers’ market season runs from June through September in a beautiful park about 25 minutes from home. Living in a rural area, the size of the market is small, but I’m a believer in quality over quantity. Not only is it nice to peruse around with the family and enjoy the park, there is always a live band in the small pavilion for entertainment.

Here is a shot of the goodies we brought home this week:

local-produce Read the rest of this entry »

Vacuum Sealing Flour

Food storage No Comments »

I’ve used the mason jar sealer attachment for our Food Saver a few times, but only recently started using it to vacuum seal dried food goods. In the past I had placed dried food items in the Food Saver bags and preserved them in that fashion with few complaints. After sealing almond flour that way, I decided flour would be better preserved in jars to prevent the flour from caking together. I finally got around to another bulk flour preservation project and tried the mason jar technique. The jars are the way to go in my opinion. Of course the cost is higher, but they store so much more neatly and the flour doesn’t get clumped together. There is also the added benefit of the jars and lids being completely reusable. This is especially nice if for some reason you don’t get a great seal the first go round. With bags I had a few occasions where the seal was lost for one reason or another and there wasn’t enough room to reseal so the bag was tossed.

Here is what I did:
I used the largest mason jars we had (sterilized of course). Otherwise, I think this project would’ve been too tedious for my taste.
ball-canning-jars

Read the rest of this entry »

Sewing Curtain Valances

Craft / Handmade No Comments »

I recently posted my crib skirt project. Of course we need matching valances! I’ve used the same 3 fabrics for the curtains as I did for the crib skirt: a grey and white pin stripe, a teal solid, and Celebrate Seuss.

Read the rest of this entry »

Storing Dried Beans with FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer

Food storage, In the Kitchen No Comments »

We go through a fair amount of beans and buckwheat in this house. To save a bit of money to allow us to buy higher quality foods we try to buy in bulk. We’ve put our FoodSaver vacuum sealer into action to help store the larger amounts of these dry goods. I spent some time today storing this 50-lb bag of Navy Beans. Finally getting to the bottom of the bag in this picture!

We choose to vacuum seal foods when it’s appropriate to allow for longer storage in the cool, damp basement. We just don’t have room in the pantry to keep everything. Read the rest of this entry »

Homemade Fermented Sauerkraut

In the Kitchen No Comments »

I recently attended a fermentation workshop after husband started eating raw sauerkraut for it’s numerous health benefits. Raw, unpasteurized sauerkraut has been difficult for us to find locally so we’ve resorted to ordering and having it delivered. We both would much prefer to have control over the ingredients in our food so the idea of being able to whip up a batch of the hard to find fermented sauerkraut was very appealing. The short workshop opened my eyes to fermentation as a method of food preservation that requires no heat and no vinegar…score!
The health benefits of fermented, unpasteurized foods are many including aided digestion by way of digestive enzymes, improved nutrient absorption and increased beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Down to business- I started my first batch of raw sauerkraut yesterday with no spices or anything that was not essential to the process. Brace yourself for this long list of ingredients: 2 medium sized heads of organic cabbage and celtic sea salt.

Read the rest of this entry »